Trigger point therapy is a soft tissue technique that works to release painful tension in muscles and fascia. This tension is often experienced as a knot in the muscle, and can be released through various approaches such as soft tissue work, deep tissue massage, dry needling, and ischemic pressure. The goal of trigger point therapy is to reduce or eliminate knot pain and associated pain by applying pressure to the muscle knots and then stretching the affected areas through a full range of motion. You may have many tiny muscle and fascial trigger points that cause your body to be in a state of pain.
Physical therapy can help treat your triggers, and participating in an active treatment program can make a positive difference. Trigger point therapy can be painful, but only while pressure is applied to the sensitive area. Unfortunately, many doctors and other professionals remain uninformed about trigger points. Check all the options that apply if you have more than half of the symptoms and there is no other apparent explanation for your pain; you likely have one or two trigger points.
While the “map” of muscle trigger points and associated pain is complicated, the process of relaxing the trigger points is simple. Having several trigger points can cause widespread aches and pains, sometimes referred to as myofascial pain syndrome. The DGSA (Dry Needling Global Standards Association) was founded in 1995 and offers courses on dry needling and manual trigger point therapy all over the world (although they focus mainly on Europe). The NAMTPT (National Association of Myofascial Trigger Point Therapists) provides resources for both patients and professionals, such as a directory of trigger point therapists (just over 100 therapists) and a symptom checker.
Trigger points are medically neglected because medicine has always had to focus on larger issues, and musculoskeletal medicine has only recently begun to receive real attention. This type of vicious cycle explains why the number of active trigger points has been found to be higher in patients with chronic primary headaches than in healthy subjects or in patients with less frequent headache attacks. Not only are trigger points sensitive to pressure, but they are also associated with pain and stiffness that extend around the TrP, even when it isn't being pricked.